Raymond was born on the 6th October 1924. His parents were Herbert Edward and Vera Doris Hooson. They had originally lived in the ‘Top Lodge’ at Sychdyn but in about 1926 moved to a new council house in Brookside Crescent, Northop Hall. Ray was one of five children. He had one older sister, Betty and three younger siblings Reg, Doreen and Alec. He went to Northop Hall school and then onto the ‘Central School’ in Shotton after which he worked in the brickworks. He was called up to the army when he was 18 in 1942 and suddenly became known as Joe. He became a guardsman in the Welsh Guards and trained in Caterham before serving in North Africa and finally Italy.
His sister Betty remembers the day when the telegram came informing his parents of his death. She was at ‘The Top Monkey’ a village pub where she lived and worked with her Aunts who owned it. The milkman came and told her that she’d better get home to Brookside Crescent as there was a problem. When Betty arrived at the house, her mother was sitting on the stairs, distraught and clutching the unopened telegram. She ‘knew’ what it contained and when Betty opened the envelope, mother was sadly proved right. He was one of four young men from Brookside Crescent who died in World War 2.
Joe was not an enthusiastic letter writer and he tended to write short ones but nevertheless they were the important and only link with home and family when he was far away from Northop Hall. He refers at times to friends and neighbours back home in the village. The originals are very frail and the writing quite faint so we have transcribed them rather than scan them. They were not dated so we have guessed at the chronology.
Many thanks to Ray’s sister Betty Thomas and his brother Alec Hooson for the information, correspondence and photographs.